Ringing the changes at the till
In an age where retailers must manage multiple points of interaction with the customer, one electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) provider is questioning the approach of traditional till estate management models
POS-LINK has been producing innovative EPoS software for fashion and speciality retailers for 25 years. Its latest software editions have been developed on a SQL Server platform to provide its retail customers with its most flexible and robust software yet.
Paul Rolison, managing director of POS-LINK, said the choice of database platform was specifically geared towards enabling a multichannel approach to the market.
“Retailers essentially want their till estates to manage transactions, provide information, and enable great customer service, and that’s what we deliver,” Rolison told Retail Technology magazine (July/August 2011 issue). “The benefit is that we can manage, maintain and support the front-end till system and nothing essentially needs to change at the back end – till estate outsourcing in essence.”
It's all about the transactional data
POS-LINK operates a back-office intermediate server, which manages its service and passes the EPoS data back to the retailer in the formats required for their back-office systems, with no need for servers to be located in stores. Likewise, back-office data is processed and delivered to the till estate with the status of individual tills controlled by a management dashboard.
He added: “We’ve even created an EPoS application that is self-sufficient. It replicates instore and to the server so that – provided it has power – it can always carry on doing its job, without needing a network connection. New or replacement tills can be up and running in minutes using a rapid deployment methodology we developed.”
This is why Rolison believes till estates have, or should, become just one of the tools to enable a customer to buy an item of stock through whatever channel they wish, wherever it may be in the business, in any store and in any warehouse.
As a result he said retailers should consider that they can upgrade their till estate without changing their back office systems. “Our EPoS software can readily integrate with existing channels and systems to interrogate real-time stock availability, place an order, and accept the payment, while not forgetting to capture and consolidate customer information across channels simultaneously,” he added.
Retail PoS moves beyond the PC
POS-LINK’s hardware partner also supports Rolison’s ethos of flexible systems that maximise the value of return on till information over capital returns on investment. “It is important they are modular, with easy-swap components so tills can be up and running again quickly after replacing a part, and without having to change an entire till,” he said.
“The EPoS hardware we supply is also fanless, which means there are less moving parts to replace. This a particular advantage to have in fashion retailing, as the clothes fibres can get everywhere, as our engineers will tell you!”
Even the ongoing development of POS-LINK capabilities supports Rolison’s assertion that retailers should strategically re-prioritise till data over the actual till estate itself. While POS-LINK already offers addition EPoS modules for loyalty and gift cards, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance services and IT helpdesk capabilities, it is also working on facilitating wireless customer recognition.
“One of the things retailers particularly want from their EPoS systems is to make sure it is giving them good customer intelligence,” Rolison concluded. “Any system that can collect customer information swiftly so staff can communicate with customers on a personalised level instore will only deliver more value to the retailer in terms of using the process of information gathering to drive higher sales.”
This story first ran as the cover story of the July/August 2011 issue of Retail Technology magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition or register for the free e-version.